Bringing the Aloha Spirit to the Mainland

What is the aloha spirit? Through his New York restaurant, this chef brings the unique sensibility to the mainland.

Hawaiian food is totally approachable

What exactly is the aloha spirit? Just ask chef and native Hawaiian Chung Chow. Growing up in Hawaii, Chow found the connection between the aloha spirit and food. Through his New York restaurant Noreetuh, Chow brings the flavors of Hawaiian cuisine to the mainland. Hawaii's melting pot cuisine has historically fused itself along the lines of its Polynesian, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, and Chinese residents, many of whom immigrated to the archipelago long before Uncle Sam annexed it at the turn of the 20th century, chef Chow takes things even further, mixing in influences from France, New York, and elsewhere.

“Aloha spirit is not really a tangible thing. This is a very innate personal thing, as a personality, the way you live life, the way you approach things, the way you treat people, the way you act on a daily basis. So, it includes being nice to people, courteous, friendly, giving without the obligation of anything or anyone giving back to you. You want to be selfless. Hawaiian cuisine is basically just a big mixture of different flavors from Asia, a lot of Japanese flavors, Chinese, Korean, some Thai, Vietnamese. So those are, you know, really broad flavors, broad range of ingredients, so that gives me a little bit of free will on how to interpret them. I think it gives me a more open approach to how I do things, how to be more personable, how to be positive, without looking, you know, how to treat other people with more kindness,” chef Chung Chow tells Brut.

The biggest take chef Chung Chow wants people to have is that Hawaiian food is totally approachable. It's no different than going out to eat at a Thai place, or going out to eat a Chinese restaurant, or going out to eat a Japanese restaurant. Alot of people think Hawaiian food is just coconuts and pineapples and this chef is trying to break that stereotype.